Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers

KCMN September meeting recap 

KCMN’s September meeting featured Steve M. Cohen  Ed.D.,  principle with the Labor Management Advisory Group and Marty Sawyer, CEO and co-owner of Trimac Industrial Systems LLC, who shared their best practices for planning management succession at KCMN’s September meeting.

Steve’s discussion focused on the two ways that organizations can develop. All companies are made up of individuals, and the personal dynamics between those individuals can get in the way of profitability.  Company managers can choose to create an organization, which is focused on process and hierarchy, or a community, which is more inclusive and makes room for new ideas and people.  Building a community is harder than creating an organization, but ultimately results in a stronger company overall.   Steve cited a recent Gallagher organization report that stated:

  • 25% of workers are engaged and have the company’s best interests at heart
  • 15% of workers are disengaged and may be working against the best interests of the company
  • 60% of workers are apathetic, and more likely to be influenced by the disengaged.

Many of those who are disengaged or apathetic may be technologically or technically proficient and may be very good at what they do, but lack the motivation or skills to be leaders.   Steve cautioned that creating engagement and looking at interpersonal skills of those promoted into leadership positions were much better predictors of successful leadership than technical competence.

Marty Sawyer discussed the value of having a 5 year plan in place for management transition at all times.  Business owners or managers need to be objective and realistic about creating an image of where the business needs to be in 5 years, and what kind of job description should be written to fill those leadership roles.   Too often, companies reference the people in place and figure out how to fit the job to the person, rather than deciding what the job needs to be first, then matching the skills to the position needs.
For family or privately held businesses, there are really 3 options on a long term plan:

Sell it (get your house in order/maximize sales and profitability)
Milk it (maximize cash flow/personal ROI)
Give it away (family members)

Running the business as if it were to be sold in 5 years generally produces the best results, as operations and decisions are more likely to be focused on maximizing activities that will improve the overall health of the business and reducing unnecessary costs and inefficiencies.

Common mistakes result in decisions being based on:

Obligation:  Just because someone is a 20 year veteran does not mean they have what it takes to lead the company or a team

Ego:  Some leaders do not want their successors to be more successful than they were, or may discourage excellence for fear they will be shown up by an employee

Peter Principle: Promoting someone who is technically successful, or good at managing small groups; does not guarantee they will be successful in a leadership or strategic role in the company.

Ultimately, successful transition comes from being realistic about the gaps in knowledge and leadership skill within your organization.   In some cases, bringing in a ‘hit man/woman’ to come in for 2-3 years to make organizational changes can help bring new perspective into the business and root out behaviors that are ingrained and counter-productive.  Steve noted that “Sacred Cows make the best burgers” and “Culture eats strategy for lunch every day”.

From Whiteboard to Boardroom

If you are interested in exploring new opportunities, have a technology you’d like to license, or would like to collaborate with university researchers,  read on!

The Whiteboard to Boardroom (W2B) Program was established in September 2009 with three-year funding from the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for Innovation grant program.  The W2B program is a bi-state partnership of the following regional colleges and universities as founding members; University of Missouri Kansas City, University of Kansas, Johnson County Community College, and William Jewell College. The focus of the W2B program is to increase the entrepreneurial activity in the Kansas City Region by threading together existing regional technology commercialization programs in a seamless system resulting in new businesses and jobs. This is accomplished by identifying game changing technologies and processes and getting them into the hands of business owners and talented entrepreneurs, resulting in new projects and businesses that stay local and grow. The W2B also functions to integrate university, hospital and industry research into the existing entrepreneurial ecosystem. The W2B will become a clearinghouse for regional commercialization information that is available to innovators and companies alike to advance technologies to the marketplace. Please contact us if you are looking for an innovation to license into your existing company or want to form a new company based on an innovation. Denise Fields at (816)-235- 816.235.6074 or Jim Baxendale at (816)-235-6429.

Making the Plan Visual

KCMN November meeting and Holland 1916 plant tour

A combination print shop and machine shop, Holland 1916 has expanded rapidly from its roots as a metal nameplate producer.

The company moved into decorative castings and, most recently, metal fabrication and rugged RFID tags.  Holland 1916 understands that “Lean Manufacturing” is a journey and through continuous improvement, has worked to improve flow and reduce inventory and lead times while expanding the number of product lines.

Holland 1916 will discuss their company’s processes for:

  • Production Flow,
  • Production control and
  • WIP Management

 Tuesday, November 13, 2012
7:00-8:30 AM
1340 Burlington, North Kansas City, MO 64116

Cost is $15 for members and $25 for guests. Guests may attend 2 meetings before having to join as a member.  Sign up by November 9 BY CLICKING HERE , or contact Donna Gordon at 816-304-7958, or


7:00-7:15 AM – Registration and breakfast
7:15 – 7:45 AM – Holland 1916 company presentation
7:45 – 8:15 – AM  Plant tour

8:15 – Wrap up and Q&A

Please bring safety glasses or sunglasses to wear for the tour, as protective eyewear is required on the shop floor.  Closed toe shoes are also required.


About Holland 1916

Founded 96 years ago, Holland 1916 is a progressive product identification manufacturer for the industrial market. To continue to improve our customer responsiveness, Holland 1916 Inc. is now the parent of three operating companies:

Holland Nameplate Inc.: a manufacturer of nameplates and durable RFID products

Holland Interface Solutions Inc.: a manufacturer of membrane switches, touchscreens, elastomeric switches, labels, overlays and castings

Holland Integrated Metal Solutions Inc.: a manufacturer of operator cabs, consoles, enclosures, panels, metal fabrication and electro-mechanical assemblies

We strive to continue the tradition of our Founder Lou Holland in providing innovative solutions to our customers.

Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center ( and Missouri Enterprise, ( ) are our Network sponsors. The event is open to area manufacturers and their suppliers. We invite you to join with us to make KCMN the premier resource for manufacturers.

Due to space limitations, no shows will be billed. Cancellations will be accepted no later than 3 business days prior to an event. Cancellations of reservations paid by credit card will be assessed a $10 processing fee by the registration service, or contact us for event credit for a future event. You may register as a guest for up to 2 events before membership is required. For questions or comments, please contact Donna Gordon at 816-304-7958